IPA Day is today, August 6, and we’ve got some recommendations on what you should drink.
We try to keep our coverage as local as possible, but many beers outside of the Midwest have impressed us. That’s why you’ll see Minnesota and Wisconsin beer accompanied with some outside of the Midwest on this list. We also broke the rules by including things like a double IPA and Belgian IPA, because we can.
But what can we say? They were worth mentioning, and are available in Minnesota beer stores (possibly Wisconsin, too).
New Glarus Brewing Co.–Scream IIPA
The first thing you see when driving up the winding road to reach New Glarus’ (newest) brewery location is a hop garden. It sits to the left of the road, lush and inviting. I’m not sure if these are the “New Glarus Brewery grown estate hops” that make it into Scream IIPA, but one thing is clear: this is the best IIPA you can have on IPA day. The beer is adorned with an illustration of an eagle that circles the brewery, allegedly screaming in joy (probably because even he understands the greatness of the beer named after him). Inside the bottle you’ll find a bit of a sweet, citrus taste. There’s just a hint of a pine backbone. No single flavor dominates the other, but instead compliments, and never sets out to destroy your palate with pure bitterness. Easily drinkable, but perfectly complex. This is a beer to drink even when it’s not IPA day.
Ballast Point Brewing Co.–Habanero Sculpin
It’s very rare that I find a beer with a good, spicy bite. Some go over the top and seek to just burn your throat, other flavors be damned. Others don’t put enough jalapeno or habanero in them, barely making an infusion or cask version worth trying over the original. In the case of Habanero Sculpin, you get a beer with a solid, floral and citrus flavor as it first hits your tongue. From there your mouth is assaulted with a minor habanero burn that stays strong throughout your 12 ounces of drinking. The beer manages to maintain a variety of flavors as you sip on it. This one is usually rated lower than the original Sculpin IPA and Grapefruit Sculpin, but it’s as good as it is divisive.
Deschutes Brewery–Fresh Squeezed
This is, hands down, one of the best IPAs on the market today. Citra and mosaic hops give it a grapefruit and orange flavor that simulates what it’s like to drink that yummy juice mom used to give you in a sippy cup. Only, you know, this isn’t juice. It’s an easy-drinking, entirely rewarding IPA that’s perfect for those looking for something that isn’t just trying to pile in hop bitterness.
At 4.7% ABV, this is an IPA you can imbibe often without having to worry about the August heat. It’s an easy-to-drink Scottish IPA that’s great after a hard day of work, or a strenuous soccer match. It’s different than what you’d expect from most IPAs–and that’s why we like it so much. There’s a bit of a spice character, faint fruit flavor, and just a hint of toasted bread before it finishes dryly with a hoppy bite. Bonus: you can buy this in cans, making it an easy beer to transport when it comes time to slay fish out on the lake or river.
Fusing the IPA with a Belgian style (or maybe it’s a Belgian style fusing with an IPA?) has created one unique beer. Citrus, pine, passion fruit, balanced bitterness–and I dare say a bit of mango and caramel–all hit your palate. This is an earthy beer, and one of the best Ale Asylum has put out. It seems that everyone who tastes this gets a bit of both styles, and one more than the other, but they all agree on one thing: this one goes down easily.
New Glarus Brewing Co.–Wild Bitter
This is actually a rare beer, so it may not deserve a place on here due to how difficult it is to find. Why is it hard to find? Well, it’s part of a the R&D series of beers New Glarus has been rolling out this year–only at its brewery in New Glarus, Wis. However, it bears mentioning if you’re able to trade someone for a bottle. This beer initially gives off a citrus flavor before it settles down into a mellow sour. It really is something different to try.
Surly Brewing Co.’s Todd the Axe Man is all the rage right now in Minnesota. We’ve tried it and think it’s good, but not good enough to make this list. For us, the piney flavor is great, but a bit overwhelming. There are hints of citrus that want to make it more complex, but we just didn’t get enough of it in our can. Others on social media have loved it, so you should definitely give the beer a try while it’s available in stores.